I joined Harmonix in 2006; I was there before its purchase to MTV/Viacom, through its Rock Band heyday, and finally to its return to being an independent studio. In addition to running the design department for several years, I contributed to a number of projects as a designer, programmer, and creative lead. Here’s a brief overview of my work at the studio.

The Beatles: Rock Band


Who I Was: Lead Designer

What I Did:

  • Expanded creative brief from Harmonix/Apple Corps into full design overview, kicking off preproduction.
  • Oversaw all aspects of gameplay design, with heavy involvement in the Vocal Harmonies system and Story Mode.
  • Led daily iteration meetings for Vocal Harmonies system, presaging studio’s eventual move to agile development.
  • Incorporated Apple Corps’ suggestion to reflect Beatles milestones by designing a “Mario stars”-like progression system with collectible historical events, and curated Apple Corps archival photographs to populate the system.
  • Facilitated technical design for psychedelic “dreamscape” venues and historical concert performance behaviors.
  • Edited 120 historical mini-essays, and maintained composure during an in-person fact-checking session by Sir Paul McCartney.

“… a celebration of such incredible care and artistry it sets a new standard by which all band-specific game experiences will be judged in the future.” — Eurogamer.net

Link: I blogged about my Beatles experience for Rockband.com.

Green Day: Rock Band

gdrbWho I Was: Project Lead

What I Did:

  • Developed “three-eras, three-concerts, three-albums” concept in consultation with the band Green Day.
  • Oversaw co-development with Demiurge Studios, ensuring authentic presentation of the band and proper handling of existing Rock Band gameplay.
  • Worked with band management to secure creative approval on all key milestones.
  • Helped Art Director oversee mocap sessions to capture live performances of 52 Green Day songs.
  • Was “the face of the game” for promotional events in USA and England.

“… when the game gets it right (and it often does) it’s as good as Rock Band has ever been.” — XboxAchievements

Link: Launch Trailer

Rock Band 4

RockBand4_Screenshot01_2015-08-03-10amETWho I Was: Co-Lead Designer, Data Scientist

What I Did:

  • Maintained design and quality standards for the migration of legacy mechanics to a brand-new proprietary engine.
  • Built C++ prototypes in Harmonix engine to prove out new mechanics for career and party modes.
  • Designed and implemented all Business Intelligence datapoints using existing C++ framework.
  • Spent over a year developing visualizations of BI data within Tableau, and assisted with eventual data migration to DeltaDNA.

“… Rock Band 4 remains every bit the magical cooperative gaming experience the series has always been.” — IGN.com

Rock Band VR

RBVR_on_stage_with_HUD.pngWho I Was: Onboarding/FTUE Designer

What I Did:

  • Joined late in development, and took over the Onboarding/FTUE flow.
  • Redesigned the experience to better train players for the game’s core dynamic of making musical choices.
  • As product owner, ensured all 23 lessons met quality bar under a tight schedule.
  • Wrote and edited voice-over script for all lessons.
  • Also designed and helped integrate BI datapoints for all game systems.

“When asked by the producers what I thought after the demo, all I could muster was ‘amazing’. It’s not hyperbole.” — GQ.co.uk

Link: VRHeads Review (includes tutorial images)


phaseWho I Was: Designer/Programmer

What I Did:

  • Was sole designer charged with re-envisioning an existing concept for a new platform, the Apple iPod.
  • Designed core music-game mechanics for a unique controller (the click-wheel), with an emphasis on mobile-game-style accessibility and instant fun.
  • Designed multiple iterations of the metagame, settling on an arcade-style progression suitable for mobile.
  • Coded procedural-level-construction algorithms in C that converted transient/beat data extracted from any song into game levels with recognizable arcs of difficulty, mechanical variety, and reflection of musical structure.
  • Took over programming of the metagame, and of some gameplay mehchanics.
  • Built prototype touchwheel controllers by cutting integrated touchpads out of computer keyboards with a bandsaw.

“Unsurprisingly, it was a music game that proved to be the first great release on the platform.” — TheVerge.com

Link: Promotional Video

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

fantasia_elkWho I Was: Systems/UX Designer

What I Did:

  • Joined long-in-development project to help transform a suite of “musical realm” prototypes into a coherent user experience.
  • Focused on enriching existing motion controls with greater expression, learnability, and fault tolerance.
  • Built prototypes in proprietary scripting language to prove key mechanical concepts related to Kinect playspace usage.
  • Worked closely with UX art team to develop a unified visual language for all key user interactions, across ten unique environments and multiple art styles.
  • Helped kickstart conversations on progression flow for the metagame.
  • Programmed an adhoc telemetry system in C++, so that the song authoring team could visualize player success rates of various gesture sequences.

Dance Central Spotlight

Dance-Central-Spotlight-09-06-14-002Who I Was: Senior Designer

What I Did:

  • Redesigned the streak-based scoring system to provide a more appealing score-chasing experience.
  • Designed a brand-new on-demand practice mode, letting players use voice and gamepad controls to interrupt play and begin looping rehearsal of any choreography sequence, then resume performance.
  • Saw rehearsal feature through from initial concept to final implementation.

Rock Band Blitz

rbblitzWho I Was: Prototype Designer

What I Did:

  • Led prototyping initiative to revisit controller-based, multi-track beatmatch mechanics from older Harmonix games.
  • Developed play prototypes that explored alternate control schemes and player goals, which informed and influenced the design of the shipping game.

Additional Titles

Who I Was: Design Director

What I Did: Contributed to and consulted on a number of other games, including:

  • Rock Band Unplugged (Playstation Portable)
  • Lego Rock Band (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, DS)
  • Rock Band 3 (Nintendo DS)

Unreleased Prototypes

Who I Was: Creative Lead, Design Lead

What I Did:

  • Oversaw small prototyping teams to develop new gameplay concepts for internal review and publisher pitches.
  • Also got hands dirty with design specs and Unity programming, often as sole designer, and occasionally as sole programmer.
  • One recent prototype was handed off to become the basis of multiple project initiatives.